Posts in Category: Social Issues

Practice Verbal Distancing from These Terms

As our nation and our world continue to battle Covid-19, maybe battle is the wrong word, as we learn to survive in the world of Covid-19, there are terms that are becoming part of our everyday vocabulary.

Two of those terms are “social distancing” and “new normal.”

I’d like to propose that we practice verbal distancing from both of those terms.

I know that another name for social distancing is physical distancing and that is the term I am trying to use more and more. The reason for this is that why we need to maintain physical space to keep the virus from spreading, we should still seek every opportunity to engage socially.

In the very first book of the Bible and the second chapter we are told very directly,

Then the Lord God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone. . .

 The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (Ge 2:18). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

Genesis 2:18 is most often referenced regarding the topic of marriage; but we can’t limit it to marriage otherwise when Paul instructs people later in the Bible to stay unmarried if they are able in 1st Corinthians 7 he would be counseling against God’s direct feeling. So while Genesis 2:18 fully encompasses the union of a man and a woman in marriage it also encompasses the need for humans to have social interaction with other humans.

For the vast majority of history, one would need to have physical proximity to another person to also have social proximity to them. This would have been the reality in 1918 during the great influenza pandemic. I have heard a lot of comparisons to that horrific pandemic in our world’s history. I think there are many dissimilarities with that pandemic and what we are facing now, but one of the key differences is that this is not 1918, it is 2020 and 2020 has a multitude of ways to socially engage while keeping physical distance.

So I want to encourage all of us to stop speaking of social distancing and instead practice physical distancing while drawing near socially.

I am back on Facebook in a limit format, for this very purpose, so I can draw nearer to our church members and others that may wish to engage in the midst of this crisis.

I am making more phone calls. I spoke to my dad for forty-five minutes on the phone two Sabbath’s ago. I have not talked on the phone to my dad for forty-five minutes at one time in the five years since I moved to Maryland.

We can text. We can FaceTime. We can email. We can send a card through snail mail. Rain, shine, or Covid-19 the United States Post Office still runs strong. This last Sabbath while our family was out on a walk some church members drove by, they pulled their car over and while we stayed on the sidewalk and they in their car we had a 30+ minute Sabbath afternoon conversation. Practice physical distancing but draw near socially to someone every day!

The second phrase the “new normal” I didn’t realize how much I dislike it until today. I was looking at the news and they had a clip of Hoda Kotb breaking down in tears on NBC’s Today Show. She had just interviewed Drew Brees, the quarterback of the New Orleans Saints who was sharing what he was doing to help Louisiana to fight Covid-19. When the interview ended and Hoda tried to speak she couldn’t . . . her voice broke and tears started to come. Savannah Guthrie her co-host who is in another studio, because they are practicing physical distancing (do you like how I didn’t say social distancing? :)) had to step in and read the tease into the next segment of the show. Later when Hoda had collected herself she said one aspect of her losing it, is that she looked around to hug someone, and no one is there, and then she said, “I guess that is part of it too. Our new normal and we’ll just get used to it.” And that is when I realized I don’t like the term “new normal” either.

I understand by actual definition “new normal” is acknowledging that it isn’t normal. But when Hoda said, “I’ll get used to it.” I thought, “NO!” Because we live in a world where “new normals” those things which seem odd because they have never been this way before. Those things which have never been accepted practices of society before and were previously considered odd or out of place are suddenly accepted, and people say, “I guess this is just the new normal.” And then one day they aren’t the “new normal” any longer, they are just “normal.”

Odd — > New Normal — > Normal

And getting comfortable with not having a friend to hug, should never become normal–so let’s not even think of getting used to this, “new normal.” Let’s just keep calling this physical distancing what it is = odd!

Isaiah 55 and Covid-19

I was kicking myself after about 30 minutes had passed and I learned I would be needing a crown on one of my teeth. This past Sabbath before virtual church I had broken a tooth–I’ve known it was cracked since early December and my dentist had been encouraging me to get it fixed . . . but who has the time? So Sabbath morning the tooth broke, and today my doc told me to get into her office for an emergency appointment–which I obeyed . . . because now I do have the time.

But back to why I was kicking myself. I didn’t bring a book. I looked right at three books I’m reading when I was getting ready to leave the house and decided I wouldn’t be that long. One, there aren’t many patients going to the dentist in the season of Covid-19 and two, she’ll probably just throw some temporary fill in the hole and we’ll get to it when all this passes.

But no–things were too close to the nerve and so there I was wishing I had a book.

But since I didn’t I open the Bible app on my phone and I read the following (stay tuned after the text I have some thoughts):

“Come, all you who are thirsty, come to the waters; and you who have no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without cost. Why spend money on what is not bread, and your labor on what does not satisfy? Listen, listen to me, and eat what is good, and you will delight in the richest of fare. Give ear and come to me; listen, that you may live. I will make an everlasting covenant with you, my faithful love promised to David. See, I have made him a witness to the peoples, a ruler, and commander of the peoples. 5 Surely you will summon nations you know not, and nations you do not know will come running to you, because of the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, for he has endowed you with splendor.” Seek the Lord while he may be found; call on him while he is near. Let the wicked forsake their ways and the unrighteous their thoughts. Let them turn to the Lord, and he will have mercy on them, and to our God, for he will freely pardon. “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord. “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts. 10 As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater, 11 so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it. 12 You will go out in joy and be led forth in peace; the mountains and hills will burst into song before you, and all the trees of the field will clap their hands. 13 Instead of the thornbush will grow the juniper, and instead of briers the myrtle will grow. This will be for the Lord’s renown, for an everlasting sign, that will endure forever.” 

Isaih 55:1-13

After I read that text I wasn’t kicking myself quite as hard, because it started me ruminating.

Here were my thoughts:

Verses 1-2: There is food right now we need that is above and beyond physical food. “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.” -Matthew 4:4

In this time of Covid-19 while we are worrying about the economy and what we will and won’t have does the Lord have a plan to draw us to return to His Word and His instruction for our lives? Is He calling us to take our eyes off of the world’s economy and place them on the Lord’s economy.

Verses 3-5: Verse 3 begins with an imperative to “listen” and our “listening” to what God is saying will lead us to another level of living. And then there is an expansion on that promise in verses 3b-5.

Verse 6: My heart was touched as I read these words. I thought about the people that will die due to this virus. Maybe someone I know and love. Maybe someone you know and love. I think about the people that will die prior to Jesus returning that have not yet accepted Him as their Savior. This is their time that He may be found. But this is not just about others, this is about the time I have now to seek Jesus more deeply than I have previously. In fact those things that have often sucked-up my time have been removed. The things I would subconsciously and consciously allow to pull me away from Jesus time–an abundance of meetings–I don’t have those right now. Sports–I don’t have those right now. Kids school activities–I don’t have those right now. I have a lot more time–Chad “seek me in this extra time, while I may be found.”

Verse 7: When we truly seek The Lord we will see wicked things in our lives, we will see all kinds of levels of unrighteousness. But when we see those things we don’t need to despair! Jesus through His death on the cross has given us a better option than the wicked ways and the unrighteous thoughts, the option to turn away from the wicked things and live, because “He will freely pardon.”

Verses 8-9: I pondered how is God thinking about Covid-19. It didn’t catch Him off guard like it did the leader of our country and so many others. Is God working in a way through this horrible situation that we cannot even comprehend? In history when there are calamities, crises, and persecution the church grows. But what about when the calamity is forced isolation? The question has been in my mind, “how can a church grow when can’t “go”? I hear God saying to me, “my ways are not your ways.” Maybe God is preparing a people that will come through this Covid-19 time more convicted of the times in which we are living. Ready to put everything else aside and live only for reaching people for Jesus. I don’t know. But I do know God’s ways are not my ways.

Verses 10-11: My favorite verses in the entire passage. Verses 10 and 11 assure me even in this time of isolation, somehow God’s Word is going out and it will not return to Him void. Just in the last couple weeks the grass in our back yard that has lied dormant all winter is letting me know it is ready to be cut, and today as the rain fell I thought, “after the off and on of rain and sun all week our yard is really going to need cutting.” Just like that dormant grass bursts forth. God’s word I know will do that in people’s hearts! That is how His ways, whatever they are will be fulfilled. People open to God’s word, and God’s word doing the work only it can!

Verses 12-13: I had not thought about verse 12 and 13–I don’t think ever before today. But in my heart, there in the dentist chair I thought . . . well let me first say, I don’t mean for this to sound callous. I understand there is a lot of suffering going on in our world right now, and that some will die from Covid-19, maybe even us . . . but as I pondered this verse in the chair while I was waiting for the machine to finish making my new tooth (crown) my heart thought, “could there a people who spiritually come through this virus more joyful? Seeing the good things of God rather than the thorn bush?”

Those are my thoughts. I pray Isaiah 55 leads us in this time of Covid-19.

I believe it was a good thing I chose not to bring a book to the dentist today.  


January 5, 2020 Genesis 5

Genesis 4 places in between the story of the death of Abel and the birth of Seth the genealogy of the Cainites. Then Genesis 5 provides the genealogy of the line of Seth. The two genealogies share two names: Enoch and Lamech. And both genealogies give descriptors of these four individuals.

Genesis 4–

  • Enoch–had a city named after him.

Genesis 5–

  • Enoch–walked with God and was no more because God took him to heaven.

Genesis 4–

  • Lamech–Bragged to his wives about taking the life of others.

Genesis 5–

  • Lamech–The father of Noah, whom he named such because he believed God would use Noah to bring relief to humanity.

The genealogies serve a prophetic picture of God’s people in contrast to the people of the world.

God’s people have rewards eternal. The people of the world only have rewards here on this earth. God’s people promote life. The people of the world destroy life.

January 4, 2020 Genesis 4

A text for all the world to ponder!

Then the Lord said to Cain, “Where is Abel your brother?” He (Cain) said, “I do not know; am I my brother’s keeper?”

Genesis 4:9 ESV

The answer: Yes! Yes, you are!

Most of us will never kill anyone, but many of us value the lives of other humans no more than Cain valued the life of his brother. This is what happens when we do not see ourselves as our brothers keeper.

Do Not Be Silent!

Prior to World War II. Prior to the annihilation of 6 million Jews at the hands of the Nazi Regime. Prior to all this there was a law that stated all Jews must register with the government and wear a visible gold star of David. If these Jewish individuals did not register or did not wear their Stars of David they were subject to monetary fines and or imprisonment.

“Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God.” –Romans 13:1

In 1938 prior to World War II. Prior to the annihilation of 6 million Jews at the hands of the Nazi Regime. Joseph Goebbels the German Propaganda Minister orders the Storm Troopers (SA) and other Nazi party formations to destroy the homes, businesses, and houses of worship of Jews while fire fighters and police are ordered to stand by and let it happen, it is known as, “The Night of Broken Glass.”

“Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God.” –Romans 13:1

Following the Night of Broken Glass, prior to World War II. Prior to the annihilation of 6 million Jews at the hands of the Nazi Regime—The Nazi state imposes a fine of one billion Reichsmarks ($400,000,000) on the Jewish community in Germany. Jews are ordered to clean up and make repairs after the pogrom. They are barred from collecting insurance for the damages. Instead, the state confiscates payments owed by insurers to Jewish property holders. In the aftermath of the pogrom, Jews are systematically excluded from all areas of public life in Germany.

“Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God.” –Romans 13:1

Prior to World War II. Prior to the annihilation of 6 million Jews at the hands of the Nazi Regime—Jewish children are banned from entering museums, playgrounds, and public pools. They are also expelled from their schools.

“Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God.” –Romans 13:1

If scripture was ever used to defend such cruelty would we stand by and be silent?

The United States of America, 2018—About 2,000 children have been separated from their families at the border of Mexico over a six-week period during a crackdown on illegal entries, according to U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

“I would cite you to the Apostle Paul and his clear and wise command in Romans 13, to obey the laws of the government because God has ordained them for the purpose of order,” Attorney General of The United States of America, Jeff Sessions.

“Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God.” –Romans 13:1

One day in the future my Adventist brothers and sisters—

“There will come a time when, because of our advocacy of Bible truth, we shall be treated as traitors.” –Ellen G. White, Testimonies for the Church, Vol. 6 p.394

“Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God.” –Romans 13:1

Do not be silent!

Protest

Today 1000’s of young people participated in a #NationalStudentWalkout, including some from Spencerville Adventist Academy, the school of The Spencerville Adventist Church of which I am the Senior Pastor, and the school my three sons attend. I have heard some within our nation agitating for the inappropriateness of this walkout and also that the students should face some level of punishment from their respective schools. I would suspect that most, not all, but most of these appeals come from those that hold a position that is in opposition to the students that walked-out. I do not write this post to discuss my views for or against the issue, you can read some thoughts on that here or here. But I write to encourage everyone, no matter where you stand on the “gun debate” to support the proactive movement these young people are taking. Supporting a young persons passionate expression to the extent it is done in peace, and is not in opposition to a clear “thus saith The Lord” is a good thing. The reason I feel this way is because I experienced that support first hand as a child and have never forgotten it.

Here is my story:

When I was in 4th grade in Loma Linda, CA one of the required classes we were to take was Spanish, in 3rd grade we took German, in 4th grade Spanish. Shortly after the class began that year I began to have some run-ins with the teacher, to the extent that I felt she had begun to call me out unnecessarily and took joy in embarrassing me. I was good at losing my temper, by that point in my life I was already on a first name basis with the office administrators and the school principal. But this time I decided not to go my usual route, instead I decided to attempt something productive

I wrote a petition!

It was a petition of protest against my need to be in that class.

It was only about half a page long, but it clearly laid out my reasons for my belief that this teacher was causing undue harm to my psyche.

When I first took the petition to the office to submit it I learned two things: first a petition needed signatures and secondly a student could not submit a petition unless they had the support and signature of at least one teacher or faculty member.

With that information and without their support they sent me on their way, I would suspect thinking they had effectively squashed this 4th graders protest.

They were wrong!

I immediately began to get signatures…over 100 of them as I remember, mostly from my own grade, but a few of the 5th and 6th grade girls signed it as well as I explained my plight and batted my eyes.

But I still needed a teacher or a faculty member to sign.

Loma Linda was (is) a large for an Adventist school and in the 4th grade there were actually 4 different teachers. We had our primary room and then we would rotate a few subjects between the other three teachers. I can tell you I remember the names of two of those four teachers. Mrs. Sell, my main teacher and Mrs. Smith, I’ve been wracking my brain trying to remember the other two and I’m coming up completely blank. Could it be I remember those two teachers because out of the 4 they were the two that read my protest and agreed to sign my sheet so that I could turn it in?

Their support had a major impact on me and now 30+ years later I still remember their support and remain grateful.

Looking back on the entire incident from an adult perspective I doubt that they signed my paper out of agreement, but rather to affirm my initiative and willingness to express myself.

Also looking back I believe their support was part of my development as a leader. It was one of the first major “leadership” initiatives I accomplished.

So let us support our children even if we don’t agree on the issue. If The Lord hasn’t called for silence on this issue in His Word and the young people are being peaceful in their protest let us affirm their outcries!

We may just be helping to develop future leaders.

Oh, by the way, they let me drop the Spanish class…go figure a protest really can change things  😉

How Many Deaths Will It Take?

The answer is not in the Wind…but we ignore the answer…

One Tweet Too Far

There have been a lot of tweets that have raised my blood pressure over the last year, but there was one I read today that was one tweet too far and I could not hold my tongue any longer. But no it wasn’t from President Trump, rather it was a tweet about President Trump by a man who is the progeny of one of my Spiritual hero’s.

That a minister of the Gospel would lower the denominator of the Christian faith to a presidential speech because he publicly uses the name of Jesus and because he says, “Merry Christmas” rather than “Happy Holidays” is beyond repugnant.

Brothers and sisters let me share with you a statement by one of my favorite authors,

“The character is revealed, not by occasional good deeds and occasional misdeeds, but by the tendency of the habitual words and acts.” -Ellen G. White, Steps to Christ, p. 57

A few words in a speech here and there do not qualify as a strong outspoken stand of the Christian faith, it is the consistent actions of ones life. It is the “habitual words and acts.”

Any individual, that consistently refers to other individuals created in the image of God in a derogatory or demeaning manner is not standing strong for the Christian faith, they are undermining the Christian faith.

Any individual that consistently lies or attempts to deceive others is not taking a strong stand for the Christian faith they are undermining the Christian faith.

Any individual that does not see the importance of seeking forgiveness from God or others is not taking a strong stand for the Christian faith, they are undermining the Christian faith.

If Christians want to support President Trump as a politician that is their business between them and Jesus; but please do not try and justify this support by claiming that he is bulwark of the Christian faith. Such statements as the above by “Christian” leaders leave our collective faith looking foolish and our collective witness weakened.

I am not a minister with anywhere near the status of Franklin Graham but to those few non-Christians that read this blog please know there are many of us out there that do not deem what our President is doing as representing or even helping the cause of Christ. There are many of us that know the greatest testimony of Christianity is, “a kind and courteous Christian.” And many of us still desire to see those we hold up as Christian pillars, individuals that live by the scriptures which teach our “speech should always be gracious.” (Colossians 4:6).

I’m LEAVING!

So I am finally going to pull the plug on my Facebook account. I have taken several hiatus’ from Facebook in the past always with the intent of rejoining in two weeks, 30 days, 40 days, whatever the case may be. This leave though is not with the intent of coming back.

It will be hard and I’m not going to give the reasons so many give, miss seeing my friends, easy form of communication, etc.. All those may be true, but the real reason it will be difficult for me is EGO!  Facebook is an ego rush. If you don’t agree then why do we 

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